Even when the inevitable stares us in the face, our natural inclination is to want things to stay the same. It is safe. We understand the rules and in the routine we find security. Nothing conjures up a sense of stability, reliability, and community more than the US Postal Service.
And nothing is more in need of change than our mail delivery system.
For generations, we have forged part of our national identity around the idea that our country built and sustained a system that allowed paper communication to flow to anyone from anywhere. In many respects, it is a miraculous system that allows a person to write a letter, scribble an address in their own hand, affix a stamp, and simply throw it into a box and voila, within a day that letter magically travels across town or, in a slightly longer period, across the country.
It is no mystery that daily communication, bill paying, invitations, and just about anything else paper correspondence once was used for is now handled without paper and a time delay, leaving our mailboxes full of, mostly unwanted, shopping catalogs subsidized by the USPS.
The Economic Impact of Resisting Change
One of the many reasons our economy is imperiled is that so many people resist change that we fail to effectively move through it, only surrendering after much struggle and staggering costs. While I appreciate the nostalgia of the local post office and the romance of the lost art of letter writing, it is time to close desolate post offices, stop Saturday delivery, and raise bulk rates on commercial interests.
As Politico’s Tim Mak recently reported, instead of addressing the justifiable emotion around these tough decisions, our policy makers seem to think the way of out of our postal problems is to make our first class mail slower. In a world where people are impatient with a seven-second delay in an e-mail, how much more obsolete is the postal service going to be when our correspondence will now take longer to deliver?
So, what does this proposal tell us? That once again, our “leaders” are running from decisions that may cause some discomfort in the short term. What about the problems it will certainly create down the road? Although, if they plan to tell us about this change in their quarterly congressional newsletter, they may have bought themselves a few extra days.
Kathleen Schafer is founding principal of Leadership Connection and author of Living the Leadership Choice (release December 2011). Connect with Kathleen on Twitter and read her blog at leadershipconnection.net.